Top Sites of the Week for Special Education Teachers

December 9, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve written and there really isn’t any excuse except to say, I’ve been incredibly busy this school year, and I intend to be more diligent.

To link to the sites discussed, just click on the image.

Having said that, here are some of my favorite sites I’ve come across in recent weeks. Since my concentration is special education, I’ve decided to focus on these types of sites.

TEACCH: This site focuses on students with Autism. Needless to say, with the numbers rising from 1 in every 150 to 1 in every 100 babies born with this diagnosis, teachers need all of the help they can get. TEACCH is a very specific way of organizing and planning the classroom. Founded in the early 1970s by the late Eric Schopler, Ph.D., TEACCH developed the concept of the “Culture of Autism” as a way of thinking about the characteristic patterns of thinking and behavior seen in individuals with this diagnosis. This site has a tremendous amount of information and resources.

Assistive Technology focuses on alternate means for children with disabilities to communicate. This entails many different devices and adaptations. It could be as simple as enlarging the font on a computer to utilizing devices such as a Tango or Dynavox. This site provides information on AT applications that help students with disabilities learn in elementary classrooms.

The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities has a wealth of information including resources, the laws around IDEA and research.

They serve as a central source of information on:

  • disabilities in infants, toddlers, children, and youth,
  • IDEA, which is the law authorizing special education,
  • No Child Left Behind (as it relates to children with disabilities), and
  • research-based information on effective educational practices.


Assistiveware’s Gaming for Mac OSX is dedicated to using assistive technology for fun and about playing the same games everyone else plays.
This site provides information on how people with disabilities can enjoy the latest and greatest games on Mac OS X.

Simplified Technology is dedicated to providing information on assistive technology and augmentative communication resources for children with disabilities. Th site is easy to navigate and sites are sorted by topic. Web site links and descriptions are listed alphabetically.


President Obama’s speech

September 8, 2009

As I sit here multitasking, watching the US tennis open, and contemplating the new school year, I find myself asking why. Why am I drawn to this topic instead of writing about the top sites I have come across? Why do politics get in the way of education? Why do people look for the negative? Why can’t we take people at face value? Why do right wingers feel they have the right to tell others what to do?

I don’t know if any of you got to read Gary Stager’s piece on the Obama speech that appeared in the Huffington Post… in case you haven’t: Stager opens the piece with, “Study hard. Take lots of tests. Obey your teachers. Don’t watch television. Don’t play video games. Education is your responsibility. Eat lots of vegetables. Be bipartisan. Always be bipartisan”.

The President is trying to inspire students to do well, stay in school, give back to mankind, become effective adults and be conscientious about your choices. Not bad if you ask me.

Top Sites of the Week

July 25, 2009

This week I have come across some really great sites. Below are a few of them:

1. Ever wonder about whether of not to use that piece of literature or music. Is it fair use or infringing on the copyright laws. Well here’s a great site to help you through this dilemma.


  • Help you better understand how to determine the “fairness” of a use under the U.S. Copyright Code.
  • Collect, organize & archive the information you might need to support a fair use evaluation.
  • Provide you with a time-stamped, PDF document for your records [example], which could prove valuable, should you ever be asked by a copyright holder to provide your fair use evaluation and the data you used to support it. [why is this important?]
  • Provide access to educational materials, external copyright resources, and contact information for copyright help at local & national levels.

2. Want to make an online time-line? Then is for you….

Picture 2

You can create a timeline on the fly with great site or let Dipity do it for you with one click.

3. Digital storytelling is an engaging and authentic tool that uses images, music and other media to tell a story.

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DigiTales ‘ website provides ideas, resources and inspiration for families, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, churches and everyone else ready to discover the power and magic of merging the art of storytelling with the enchantment of using digital tools. Let all DigiTales StoryKeepers be heard far and wide!

4. Have you ever wanted to give your photo an effect like sepia or make create a wanted poster in a matter of seconds? Tuxpi  takes your photo and transform it with a collection of easy to use effects.

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5. Want a fun and cool way to teach mouse skills? The Feed the Head is for you. This creative and slightly creepy images reinforces exercises like drag and drop, point and click, and click and drag. Try it out! Vectorpark has many other fun sites as well.

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Keeping up with the Kids

July 21, 2009

I just read the excerpt below and had to write about it. The piece is from The Power of Pow! Wham! Children, Digital Media and Our Nation’s Future, Three challenges for the coming Decade by Rima Shore, PH.D.

“In the realm of digital media, researchers (like most other adults) are hard pressed to keep up with children. They follow along somewhat breathlessly as kids make seemingly effortless leaps to new platforms. As children explore the possibilities of Web 2.0 applications, cell phone programs, and podcasts, researchers are debating the impact of decade-old digital games. University of Wisconsin professor Kurt Squire has written, “SimCity is more than a decade old. A generation of youth has grown up with edutainment. Yet, we know very little about what they are learning playing these games (if anything)” (Squire, 2002, p. 4).

In today’s public schools, students are powering down upon entering the school walls instead they should be powering up. They shut off their ipods, cell phones, and if they have a laptop, they can’t get online without a secure proxy. Schools should be tech havens for our students. They should be able to sit in front of the building 24/7 and surf the web. Instead we worry about our signal bleeding through classroom walls. I’ve been in classrooms where the students are huddled under the wireless access point in their room so that more than 2 computers can get online. At some point, we have to stop worrying about policing student’s internet activities and actually teach them how to be responsible and accountable web purveyors.

Top Sites of the Week

July 17, 2009

1. Tech Ease for Mac

Quick answers to real classroom technology questions. An online service of the Educational Technology Clearinghouse.Tech-Ease

2. iWebKit

Iwebkit is the revolutionnairy kit used to create high quality iPhone and iPod touch websites in a few minutes and is based on an LGPL license. In the first 4 months of it’s existance the pack has greatly evolved from a basic idea to a project that has reached worldwide fame!

Here is a sneak peak of what’s new:

  • Your creations load 25% faster by reducing and optimizing the code
  • The easy tutorials and code now has become even simpler by reducing the size of the HTML documents by 20%
  • Awsome new and advanced features offered by no pack in the world like a custom popup and iphone-style form elements
  • A whole new website focusing on ease of use and support with a complete new design and a forum.

3. Brain Honey

Track grades, differentiate instruction, and monitor progress against state standards for classroom, blended, or online learning. BrainHoney is easy to use and free to join.

4. ISTE Observation Tool

The ISTE Classroom Observation Tool (ICOT®) is a FREE online tool that provides a set of questions to guide classroom observations of a number of key components of technology integration.

5. World History for us All

World History for Us All is a powerful, innovative model curriculum for teaching world history in middle and high schools.

  • offers a treasury of teaching units, lesson plans, and resources.
  • presents the human past as a single story rather than unconnected stories of many civilizations.
  • helps teachers meet state and national standards.
  • enables teachers to survey world history without excluding major peoples, regions, or time periods.
  • helps students understand the past by connecting specific subject matter to larger historical patterns.
  • draws on up-to-date historical research.
  • may be readily adapted to a variety of world history programs.

Cell phones have changed the landscape of technology

June 16, 2009

Technology has brought immediacy to our lives. Now if there’s a fire or any other type of newsworthy event, it is reported on as it’s happening. We no longer have to wait for the evening news or read it in the newspaper the next day. Cell phones have changed the landscape of technology. Now we can take pictures of the event with our cell phones and upload it to the web and have it reach millions of people in a matter of seconds. This really is amazing and I believe unrelenting. I just read that now as unrest is taking place around the world, people are tweeting the events live. Think about this. Even if you don’t want to stay informed, you really don’t have a choice. Technology has changed how we report the news, how we look at the world, how we communicate and how we reach out to be heard. The sooner we embrace this technology, the sooner we can make it work for us in education and use it for positive change.

Web 2.0 in Education

May 21, 2009

There are so many useful and interactive web sites, that I find myself spending an awful lot of time just trying to stay up to date. In fact, this blog is a web 2.0 application. How did we exist BW – before web 2.0? According to WIkipedia web 2.o is “Web 2.0″ refers to a perceived second generation of web development and design, that facilitates communication, secure information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities, hosted services, and applications such as social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies.” 

I am constantly sharing my new found sites with teachers and educators. For the most part I post these sites on my delicious account. Another one of those web 2.0 social bookmarking sites. This allows a person to bookmark their sites on the web as opposed to a single computer. This way you can find them from any computer at any time. 

There are sites like voicethread, jing and openoffice, to name a few. Voicethread allows you to record conversations around images, videos or documents. If you want to record onscreen actions then jing is the application you’re looking for. And imagine locating your documents on the web through openoffice instead of on a single computer.

It’s up to educators to find innovative and exciting ways to use these tools. Imagine recording a trip through ancient Rome with jing in Google earth, or students actively engaged in peer editing through voicethread. How about adding content in the middle of the night through openoffice. These are only a few of the possibilities.